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Month: September, 2013

Lila

On Friday, I had the absolute privilege of helping welcome Baby Lila into the world. Kaki’s FGM was a rockstar: amazing, inspiring, *insert cheesy but apt adjective here.*

Welcome, Little One. We already love you so.

Here are my favorite snaps from the experience while James pieces the story together more fully. How special that I’ve been able to be with both of my daughters’ Fairy Godmothers while they themselves welcome new life.

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Genetics

Well, I guess we know where Courtland gets her looks!

On the right is James’ grandmother at age 2 in 1937. Pretty incredible, eh?

I wish I were more skilled in Photoshop, but this is striking regardless.

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Currently Gawking

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WHA?!?! I am dead. Writing from the afterlife. Below is a video of the founder of my college step group, Sankofa, and some other ‘Kofa ladies stepping at Paris Fashion week in the Rick Owens’ show. I would have died from awesome overload just seeing such diversity of bodies and skins tones and step on the runway – but to know that it is my own group’s founder, who has since created the group Soul Steps, and some other Ephs is just too much.

So crazy proud. Now behold the awesome yourself.

My Mother’s Attic // 9

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This month’s remake for My Mother’s Attic seems fairly subtle and unremarkable, yet I put more sewing skills to work than ever before, and I’ll probably wear this piece more than any other yet in the series. Plus, you should hop over to the full post to see my spotlighting of all our Cartwheel Farm Critters. More on New Dress a Day.

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I. Swoon.

Jamescapes // 12

Fall is Vermontastic, and our favorite season. Here are some illustrations of why.

TITLE: Take your pick: Lil’ morning sunshine, or MOST EPIC SUNRISE OF THE MIGHTY TREE GODS!

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TITLE: Fall Fog on a Lazy Morning

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TITLE: So Lazy, it didn’t move. So I took another picture of it.

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TITLE: WHY IS VERMONT SO F%$$@ UGLY?!??!!

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Many more to come…

Barnyard Dance

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Two weekends ago, James and I celebrated our wedding anniversary and his 30th birthday with a Barnyard Dance.

We needed some happy celebrations after a very challenging summer. These milestones – James’ 30th birthday and our 5 year wedding anniversary (marking 10 years since the day we met) – needed celebrating. We needed time, together, with people we love, to reflect on the past decade. All the joy and heartbreak, challenges and triumphs.

I’m so very glad we did.

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We used this invitation from Paperless Post to invite friends and family. We decided to host the party on a Sunday so that our dear friends from Darlingside could be involved. We knew this meant that the crowd would mostly be local (given that people would have to work on Monday morning), but it was fun to be surrounded by the new friends that we’ve made since marrying five years ago. It was a lovely reflection of what we’ve built during this time.

Geraldine and Joe (Kaki’s FGPs) graciously allowed us to use their outrageously amazing barn to house the festivities. Seriously, that space is incredible. These photos give you a taste of the awesomeness, but it’s hard to do it justice. What a special venue!

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It was particularly meaningful that my parents and Maja and Lars could take part in the evening. My parents will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary next year, and they have been a constant source of support, love, and role-modeling for me and James ever since we met. We are so very lucky to have them in our lives. And Maja, the woman who made my wedding dress, who celebrated on that mountain with us five years ago, who met her own partner during that time in America five years ago, was with us, which was so gloriously fitting and special.

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^^We decorated the barn in twinkly lights, and stars, and candles and freshly picked apples and sunflowers. Two of my favorite Williams College students were our bartenders, offering up Kir Royals and Dark n’Stormies and local brew. We even used our custom cocktail napkins from our engagement party, and then wedding that spotlighted the recipe for Kir Royals from moi and Dark n’Stormies from James – finally finishing the last of that cute supply. ^^

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^^The ice cream cart was back in action, complete with a candy topping bar so that our guests could enjoy the local SoCo sweets.^^

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^^We turned a chocolate fountain into a caramel fountain and sliced apples that we picked from a local orchard the day prior for dipping.^^

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^^Our favorite cider donuts were among the treats. ^^Barnyarddance_blogalacart-5

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^^Sara Miller created these adorable and delicious cupcakes and cake, themed appropriately in James’ favorite flavor, carrot cake.^^

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^^A huge thanks to Andrew and Laura for helping execute set-up and take down. Andrew had more than earned that drink. We are so very lucky to have such generous friends!^^

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^^James’ parents were traveling overseas, so they provided the champagne and this hilarious and festive champagne cork stool that everyone at the party was able to sign as a memento of the evening. Also, see the cocktail napkins above.^^

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^^Darlingside entertained us all with their amazing tunes. And I want to thank my colleague’s sweet boyfriend, Eric Balcanoff, for snapping some photos of the festivities, since I didn’t pick up the camera once after our guests arrived. You can check out his portfolio here.^^

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^^I rocked an insanely awesome white dress (ironic since I didn’t wear white to my own wedding ceremony – though I changed into a white dress at the reception) by Lida Baday. I need to do a separate style post on this beauty – complete with the incredible story behind it – but for now, know that it was quite the conversation piece.

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^^James surprised me with a serenade, the song that he sang during our wedding ceremony: “Fire and Ice” by Garth Brooks. Thanks, Harris, for making that possible with your guitar accompaniment, and Eric for capturing my swooning!^^

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It was a very very special night. Made even more special by this song that Dave (from Darlingside) sent to us that day. He wrote and performed the song that James and I walked down the aisle to at our wedding. We asked him to adapt the passage “On Children” from Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, and what he created exceeded all expectations. As a anniversary gift to us, he and Harris and our friends Dan and Ruth recorded a professional version for us to have always.

Enjoy!

Penelope

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Internets, meet Penelope. She’s a potbelly pig. And Cartwheel Farm is now her home.

Yes, James and I impulse purchased a pig on Friday evening.

Why do I have a feeling no one’s surprised by this statement?

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Ever since buying this house, we’ve daydreamed about what barnyard critters we wanted to join our family. Thanks to our barn, we have the infrastructure for livestock, one of the many reasons we fell in love with Cartwheel Farm. A gentleness, kindness, and respect for animals is something James and I value deeply in people, so it’s no surprise that we believe that our daughters will benefit greatly from the presence of some animal friends.

Chickens were the first and most obvious choice. (One of our barn stalls had already been converted into an amazing chicken coop by the previous owners).They arrived very quickly upon our own arrival.

We’ll always have dogs, though our house, not the barn, is their residence.

We looked into sheep. But they are way too aloof. I like my animals needy and social and dependent. I like to be bonded and connected to them. Sheep? They wouldn’t give a dang about the humans of Cartwheel Farm.

Goats eat everything. And their kicking and/or head-butting freaked me out with the girls.

Horses, maybe, if the girls have the interest and willingness to handle all the horse maintenance. So ask me in five years or so.

Ducks need water and would make a hot mess of the chicken coop. Peacocks (Momar’s suggestions) scream and can be nasty to people. Reindeer (an animal we’re hoping will eventually call CWF home) require crazy permitting and are very expensive. We’re holding out on them for the time being.

We’re planning to do llamas and/or alpacas, since then I’ll have a fiber animal for my knitting obsessions, plus the sociability I demand of my dependents, but we need to build (and by “we,” I mean “James”) a fence in our meadow to accommodate them. Plus, they are herd animals, so we have to get more than one. And they are just bigger, more expensive beasts to consider adding to the family.

But potbelly pigs? Turns out we were already well-equipped to welcome a pig.

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James had suggested we get pigs months ago, as they are super smart, friendly creatures. Much like dogs, they really connect with people and can make very sweet additions to a family.

I was initially turned off, as I had a vision of a 500 pound hog lurching around the barn. And Sunny did not respond well to those enormous beasts when we visited our local CSA.

I had heard of miniature pigs, but thought that they had to live inside. Given that I am opposed to life with an indoor cat (I just can’t handle the litterboxes. Outdoor cat? Barn cat? No problem!), I couldn’t fathom an indoor swine, complete with litterbox.

Fast forward to last Monday when I was in a work meeting and my colleague began talking about her neighbor’s adorable, small, potbelly pig. She showed me a photograph of their seven year old daughter joyously holding this animal, and I was instantly smitten.

Of course I took to Craigslist to see what might be available in our area. I didn’t find too much, and didn’t hear back from anyone that had anything promising until a phone call on Friday afternoon from a woman an hour east of us who had a one year old, black, 35 lb, female, potbelly pig for sale. James and I rallied, threw the kids in the car and headed out to meet her, with no expectations of actually coming home with a pig. We figured we get the lay of the land, ask questions, and get a real sense of what was required for pig ownership.

Welp, notice that we are now pig owners.

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We were so taken with her – her wagging tail, her snorting, her gentle nature, the way she gingerly ate food right out of the kids’ hands and they mutually squealed in delight – that I told James I was sold on the idea but that he had the final say.  I figured we’d have to come back later anyway as we had not come equipped with a pet carrier for transport. I headed up to the car with Courtland to change her diaper, and James emerged 15 minutes later, with Sunny, and a cat carrier filled with Penelope. Apparently he decided he wanted her. And so the woman we purchased her from gave us the carrier as part of the deal.

She’s a 35 pound, year old potbelly pig. While she’ll continue to grow for the next two years, she probably won’t be much bigger than 50 pounds. That remains to be seen as Penelope, or Penny (as Sunny calls her), has been charged with turning our compost pile and clearing our lawn of the fallen apples that keep breaking our lawnmower. She is more than willing to oblige these tasks. Though she has already demonstrated her dislike of kale, green beans and carrots. Apparently Ursa has a monopoly on carrot obsession that transcends mortality. Penny’s so ugly that she’s endearingly adorable. And we like her. So very much.

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She lives up in the barn in one of the stalls next to the chicken coop, in a dog crate filled with fleece blankets for warmth. James is building her an insulated dog house, and I’m knitting her wool sweaters to survive our chilly Vermont winters. She’s been an incredibly easy, entertaining addition thus far. Expect many more stories and pictures of Miss Penny to follow.

We realize that our grief over the loss of Ursa is fueling much of our decision making these days. We have a puppy joining our family in two weeks, and James was really hoping that we could get alpacas immediately (though I think I’ve staved off his impulses with a reality check about the fence-building process). We are still grieving and I am punched in the gut daily by the gapping hole in our family since she left us. I miss her more than I can say, and while I know that these new animals will never fill that hole, I am relishing in the joy and amusement that they bring. The way I feel my heart make room and ache just a little bit less.

Ursa began our love of caretaking eight years ago. It’s fitting that she’s inspired us to continue to expand and love, even in her absence.

Now enjoy the magic of Penelope in action with the girls.

Currently Reading

Take a look at any Hopper and you’ll see that even more so than he was talented at rendering people, he was talented at rendering the spaces that yawn open between people, the inviolable chasms that surround each of them, swallowing every gaze and every caress, every word whispered in the dark that the dark will reclaim.

A beautiful albeit melancholy read on this Monday morning by a Williams College student whose use of language is blowing my mind. Full post over on The Feminist Wire.

38/52

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“A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013.”

Sunny: So gentle, this one. Such a stark contrast to her baby sister. The calm to Courtland’s storm.
Kaki: My adventurer. My Vermonter.

More details about The 52 Project here. To view all the portraits in the series visit here.